skip to Main Content

UH accelerator named in top 30 of best U.S. accelerator programs in 2017

University of Hawaiʻi
Vassilis L. Syrmos, (808) 956-5006
Vice President for Research and Innovation, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Director, Research and Administrative Operations, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Posted: Jun 9, 2017


Honolulu — XLR8UH, a public-private partnership between University of Hawai‘i (UH) and Sultan Ventures created to educate, mentor and invest in UH startups and entrepreneurs, has been named a top 30 U.S. accelerator in the 2017 Seed Accelerator Rankings, a part of the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project (SARP).

The XLR8UH program is a four-month startup accelerator that works with UH-affiliated entrepreneurial teams to offer office hours, weekly workshops, presentations and lectures conducted by noted business, technology and startup experts. Teams are eligible for up to $75,000 in seed capital, plus an additional $100,000 in follow-on funding, for a total XLR8UH-driven investment of $175,000.  Each session culminates in a formal, highly competitive showcase day where teams present to a panel of investors, partners and executives.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of XLR8UH and this ranking underscores the growing belief in Hawai‘i as a source of high-potential startup opportunities,” said UH President David Lassner. “In the same vein, it further validates our efforts in the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative to help diversify the state’s economy and create more high-quality, living-wage jobs.”

Over the past three years, XLR8UH has mentored, educated and inspired more than 40 startup ventures with 24 matriculating out of the program. These 24 companies have generated, in total, more than $5 million in revenue, and have raised more than $30 million in funding.

“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside other pioneering accelerator programs, most of which are located in traditional startup hotspots,” said Omar Sultan, managing partner at both XLR8UH and Sultan Ventures. “Being named a top 30 accelerator in the country -- which puts us in the same company as the well-known programs of Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups, and Mucker Lab -- is a reflection of the caliber of the University of Hawai‘i’s talent and innovation.”

XLR8UH was Hawai‘i’s only accelerator program to make the SARP’s 2017 list of top accelerators.

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project is headed by three former entrepreneurs who are now leading academic experts on accelerators. The researchers are Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business; Susan Cohen, an assistant professor of management at University of Richmond's Robins School of Business; and Dan Fehder, a postdoctoral scholar at Rice University and a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To be invited to participate in the SARP rankings, accelerator programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup "boot-camps" that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in a public pitch or demo day. Invitees also had to have graduated at least one cohort and have more than 10 startup graduates.

About XLR8UH

XLR8UH is the first of its kind, and Hawai‘i’s only, proof-of-concept center and venture accelerator. The program, a public-private partnership between University of Hawai‘i (UH) and Sultan Ventures, educates, mentors and invests in UH-affiliated startups and entrepreneurs. XLR8UH’s goal is to create economic prosperity in the state by taking the science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship formed at UH and converting it into new businesses, jobs, and opportunities. Learn more at

About UH Research

Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i (UH) impacts the quality of life in the islands and around the world. As the state’s major research university and because of Hawai‘i’s tremendous geographic diversity, UH plays a prominent role in the state’s economic growth and development through its diverse and world-renowned research programs in astronomy, earth and ocean sciences, medicine and tropical agriculture.

About Sultan Ventures

Sultan Ventures (SV) is a boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups and investments. As a Startup Catalyst™, SV provides pivotal resources via its powerful network of experts and investors. SV works closely with innovative startups, providing the hands-on expertise and access to capital needed to accelerate growth, as well as with investors, performing the diligence necessary to make strategic investment decisions. Learn more at

About the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative

The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving research enterprise in Hawai‘i that will develop a third major economic sector for the state, create high-quality living-wage jobs, and address the challenges and opportunities that face our communities and the world to improve our quality of life.